The two pileateds in the tree—the male is on the left.Regular readers of this blog have often heard me mention the pair of pileated woodpeckers which live on the long, narrow, wooded island across the river’s mainstream from the cottage. Every once in a while they flap over to check out the dead limbs on various trees in my yard, or grab a handy meal from the suet feeders suspended near the house. I tirelessly stalk them, sneaking to the room with the most convenient window in yet another attempt to add a few pileated images to my files. Nine times out of ten the wild-as-a-buck woodpeckers spot me first and vamoose. A game of hide-and-seek which is both frustrating and fun.
The male (still left) hops onto the female's branch and approaches.Last evening, as I was having dinner, the male pileated flew across the water and landed about 20 feet up in a tree that’s perhaps 75 feet from the house. Luckily, my camera was within reach. As I took a couple of shots, I saw a second pileated heading over—the female. She landed close to the male, perhaps 8 feet away. Even though it had already grown darker, I took a few frames, not really expecting them to be usable, but wanting to try anyway. A moment later, the male transferred over to the same horizontal branch as the female, then began edging her way. I took additional shots.
The male pileated flies onto the female.When the male pileated reached the female’s side, he spread his wings and jumped, mounting her for mating. No preamble, no billing and cooing beforehand—just skedaddle close and hop.
Mating!The mating process took perhaps 15 seconds. The male came off and I noticed his flaming red crest sticking up and spread apart like the fingers on your hand. He sat beside the female for maybe 20 seconds, crest extended as if posing, then flew back to the place on the tree where he’d first landed when flying over from the island. Here he immediately began poking up the trunk looking for insects. A wham-bam-thank-you-mam romance if ever I saw one!
"LOOK AT MY CREST!"
The female sat tight, head down, not moving a muscle for at least 45 seconds. After this, she straightened, shook her head, glanced toward the male, and simply sat a while longer before flying to another nearby tree where she began her own meal investigations."Was it good for you?"
"Not even dinner together…?"I felt lucky to have seen this moment of woodpecker intimacy…and glad I have the images I do and can share them with you. Let me know what you think.